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Cambridge Passive House

The clients for this house are a couple planning to retire to Cambridge who wanted to build an energy efficient, comfortable house that would suit their needs as they aged. This is our first Passive House project in the North Island and given the relatively mild weather in the Waikato we really wanted to try to stick to a very simple recipe to achieve the PH standard here. In most of our South Island projects we need to specify triple glazing and relatively complicated wall and floor constructions. Here we saw the opportunity to keep things really simple. After modelling various options in the passivhaus planning package, we found that we would be able to achieve the PH standard with 115mm structural insulated panel walls, good quality timber framed windows with double glazing, and a simple albeit carefully modelled insulated slab.

The building itself is located on a corner site of a relatively busy street in central Cambridge. The site is a long narrow triangle which runs parallel to the road to the south. The district plan rules required a large setback from the road which meant that almost the entire site could not be built on as of right. Our response was to locate the building parallel to the southern street boundary, partly with the road setback. This created a strong edge to the streetscape and open up space to the north for private outdoor living space. By layering up the building and landscaping using strong horizontal elements the visual impact of the two storey house on the street was minimized. The wide eaves also provide excellent shading from high summer sun and reduce the likelihood of overheating. From a planning point of view the program for the house is relatively straight forward. The bottom level of the house contains the master bedroom and all spaces required for the couple’s day to day needs. The upper level contains 3 guest bedrooms for visiting family & friends.

Due to the importance of building services, mechanical ventilation and airtightness in passive houses, the building was designed from the outset with the services in mind. The architecture, structure and services work tightly together to create a highly integrated and resolved building.

 

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